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The Home Depot

Retaining Walls Materials & Benefits

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Landscaping > Retaining Walls Materials & Benefits
Retaining Walls Materials & Benefits

When you want to hold-back large amounts of soil, you’re going to need a retaining wall. Or what if when it rains, the elevation behind your house begins to slide into your back yard? A barrier is just what the doctor ordered. Remember, when you’re putting in a retaining wall, you are actually installing an engineered system.


That’s no reason it has to be an eye-sore. Retaining walls can be more than practical. You can create a tiered pathway, additional seating, creative placement for plants and grasses and can the wall can even be turned into an outdoor “room.”

  1. 1.Types of Retaining Walls

    There are many types of retaining walls. The one that best suits your needs should be the primary focus. Here are some of the kinds of barriers from which you can choose:


    • Wood

    • Interlocking concrete blocks

    • Cinderblock

    • Stone

    • Brick

    • Mortar-less or dry-stacked field stone


    Poured concrete, which further breaks down into these 4 categories:


    • Gravity

    • Semi-gravity

    • Cantilever

    • Counterfort

  2. 2.Interlocking Concrete Block

    Quite a few localities require that a licensed engineer-designer handle walls higher than four feet high.

    These are also referred to as segmented retaining walls. These block systems lock together without needing mortar. They are also pretty simple to construct. Since the blocks are small, they can be great choices if the wall you’re building requires some flexibility. For instance, you can use these materials to turn, curve, taper and wrap along your landscape. This method can be practical for walls up to 20-feet high.


    Using these materials, think about these techniques:


    • Backfill trap. These block shapes will allow backfill to be shoveled into the block webbing which traps each block individually


    • Geo-grid webs. The manufacturer supplies geo-grid woven-net tiebacks that connect to the block. They are buried 5-feet into the hillside at specified heights


    • Keyed, battered design. The block shapes lock into one another. They can be stacked to lean against the hillside

  4. 3.Cinder Block, Brick Or Stone

    You’ll need mortar to hold cinder block and brick walls together. Not necessarily so with stone. Thanks to gravity, they are kept in place by their weight. Stone is the most pleasing to the eye. Brick is formal-looking. Cinder block is cheapest of the three. Stone-wall masonry is not a piece-of-cake to assemble. It’s exacting and requires a crafts-person who’s got a lot of experience.


    Any retaining wall that uses mortar needs a drainage system and solid footing, too.

  5. 4.Concrete

    It’s strong, but without some dressing-up, it’s pretty ugly. You can veneer it with tiles or masonry. But, if you need a wall over a couple of feet tall, check-out a professional like you can find at Redbeacon.

  6. 5.Wood

    Wood is likewise an economical way to hold back the masses. It’s not as strong as stony-like barriers, but it is the warmest looking of them all. Pick either pressure-treated fir or redwood for the most durability.


    Every yard is different. Before you begin a project like this, check your local building codes. Quite a few localities require that a licensed engineer-designer handle walls higher than four feet high. The best way to be legal is to phone in a pro.


    You don’t want a heavy rain to wash away your work.

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